After months of rehabilitation at Israel’s Sea Turtle Rescue Center, the loggerhead sea turtle Stitch was released back to sea on Thursday.
Fishermen found Stitch off Israel’s coast in December with a fishing hook stuck in her mouth that had caused her lungs to fill up with water.
When a sea turtle has water in the lungs, she “can develop an infection in the lungs, and it takes a lot of time to heal, with antibiotics and a lot of care,” Olga Rybak from the Sea Turtle Rescue Center told Reuters.
“Today, she was already strong and healthy and gained a lot of weight and was ready to be released. She’s an adult sea turtle, so she’s about 20, 30 years,” Rybak told Reuters.
Loggerheads can live over 70-80 years, and females reach maturity at around 35 years of age. “That means she can join the reproductive population of the Mediterranean, so we’re really happy we saved this turtle, so (she) will generate more turtles in the future,” Rybak said.
Stitch was released back to the Mediterranean Sea on a sandy beach in Palmahim National Park, south of Tel Aviv.
Dozens of people gathered to watch, clapping and cheering as she walked towards the water.